An Overdue Dose of Dopamine

The past month has been filled with tragedy and suffering. Hurricane Maria devastated Dominica on September 18 and two days later hit Puerto Rico, claiming forty-eight lives as of this writing and leaving thousands without homes, electricity, and water. Two weeks ago, Americans witnessed the deadliest mass shooting by a single person in modern US history when a gunman fired on a large crowd of concert goers in Las Vegas, and last week massive wildfires ravaged Northern California. And then, of course, there’s our president and the daily havoc his administration wreaks. These are definitely not the best of times—so let’s take a few minutes to focus on a few positive difference-makers in the world and recognize their work improving the lives of those around them.

People tend to come together and express their humanity through acts of kindness during times of disaster. Celebrities often lend their voices and wealth in response but aren’t often seen as going above and beyond what’s fairly easy for them to do. Bethenny Frankel, Skinnygirl CEO and Real Housewives of New York star, certainly went a step farther when she chartered four planes to distribute more than 20,000 pounds of donated medical and survival supplies to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico, including water, canned goods, diapers, baby food, medical supplies, and insulin. The planes then brought people in need of major medical care back to hospitals here in the US. Support and love can be shown in many ways and sometimes it is the smallest among us who need it the most. David Deutchman certainly knows this to be true. David, also known as ICU Grandpa, spends his Tuesdays and Thursdays at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to hold and provide comfort to sick NICU babies whose parents are unable to be with them. The nurses and parents adore Deutchman and know that the work he is doing positively impacts the babies’ livelihood. “I just love doing it,” Deutchman said of his volunteer work. “It’s been wonderful because it gives me something to do that has meaning to it.” Thank you, David, for your commitment to these very special infants.

Another heartwarming story occurred two weeks ago in Canada when Clay Cook, who was participating in his wedding photo shoot, rescued a boy from drowning. As he was being photographed, Cook noticed several young kids playing on the edge of a pond nearby and walked over to make sure everything was okay. He saw one of the boys in the water struggling to keep his head up. “I knew I needed to react. He was in a bit of trouble and I needed to get him out of there,” Cook explained. Wearing his wedding suit, Cook jumped into the pond, without hesitation, and rescued the boy. Several news sources have called Cook a hero, however he doesn’t see his actions as heroic. Instead he says, “It was just the right thing to do.”

Our last dose of dopamine takes us across the pond to a nursing home in Yorkshire, England. Nursing homes can be stale, depressing, and uninviting places for both the elderly and their families. However, Yorkare is trying to create an inviting and homey environment for their dementia patients by recreating street scenes from the past in order to stimulate familiar and happy memories. For example, an old record store has been recreated along with a bakery that was once popular in the area. The goal of this project is to inspire families and residents to have more conversations about positive memories and life events with each other. This care home is intended to invigorate residents by helping them relive “the good ol’ days.”

So as we get back to the intense now days, keep in mind there’s much to applaud and seek inspiration from out there in the wide world.